Headache Working Out on Carb Cycling

Hi everyone,

I’ve been carb cycling for the past 2 weeks. Since the last 3 days, I ate perhaps 40 grams of carbs per day. As I was doing legs wednesday, I started to have a terrible throbbing headache in the back of my head. I thought this was perhaps linked with the low position of my head (I was leg pressing) or dehydration.

So thursday I was training back. After my first set of pull-ups, the same kind of headache came back even more powerfully. I changed my exercice selection for less “challenging” ones and I was able to made it through. I then made sure to drink plenty of water.

Then today I went to do chest/delts. Warming up with the 75s on the dumbell press and that same headache comes in even more powerfuly.
*On all those days:
-I drank a large coffee before my workout.
-I had less then 40 g of carbs (preworkout)

What should I do to get rid of those headaches? What’s their cause?

Thank you and have a good day

I had this problem. For me I wasn’t taking in enough salt. Caffeine or any other vasoconstrictor can cause this as well.

You NEED to add salt if you are low carbing without a lot of processed foods.

I also got this before. It was more like a sharp pain in the back of my head/close to my neck.

I noticed a few things: 1) it mostly only happened with squats 2) higher reps made it worse 3) if I tried to just push through it it would get worse every session…had to learn to back off and eventually it went away.

I would try to play with your intensity and reps. If you’re working out 5+ days a week keep the intensity where you want it but maybe only hit the gym two or three times next week. Also check how many calories you are getting in from fat vs protein…if the calorie count for protein is over 50% this could be holding you back as well.

Some people take longer to adjust to carb cycling! Stay the course and don’t injure yourself.

Google “excertion headache”… It’s most likely not much to do with your diet (except lack of salt can cause you to dehydrate faster)

I used to get them during leg presses as well and after having looked into it I found two things caused them:

  1. dehydration
  2. the pressure that builds up when holding your breath - especially when leg pressing

I found that by focusing on breathing and exhaling on the concentric part and making sure to really load up on water prior to training - especially in hot weather I could avoid these pains entirely.

IF you get them - they can linger for several weeks each time you exert yourself and my best advise is to abort the session until its completely gone.

[quote]winkel wrote:

  1. the pressure that builds up when holding your breath - especially when leg pressing

I used to experience this years ago when I first started training. I never found out if it was from holding my breath, my habit of pressing my head backward so intensely while pressing, or a combination of both, but simply by learning to relax a bit when under the weight (I know that sounds kinda funny) solved my problems quite easily.


Thanks for you replies.

As some of you mentionned, it was an exertion headache, linked to a tight neck and in conjuction with the position of my head (and breathing) during the high rep leg press. It went away about 10 days later after all the inflammation in my traps/neck resorbed.

So basicaly, nothing to do at all with carb cycling.